Zoologist: Beaver - Clean and skanky

A river pools in the clearing of a peaceful wood. Wild flowers mingle in the undergrowth. This is where the beavers build their kingdom.

Perfumistas often find themselves divided over the topic of "skank." That dirty, gritty, animalic aspect of some perfume that some find disgusting while others feel is sexy.

Perfume notes that add "skank" are usually musks: civet (from a catlike creature of the same name), deer musk, and castoreum (from beavers). Musks are removed from the glands near the anus of the animal and, as one can imagine, this does not leave the animal intact after the procedure. Considering this procedure and its impact on the animal, modern musks are usually synthetics or not sourced from these creatures. Then there's ambergris, expelled from the sperm whale, like vomit but not. Since ambergris is not harmful to the sperm whale, it is not a no-no from the animal-cruelty standpoint - but it's super rare (and super expensive!). Luckily, perfumers have been experimenting with dried hyrax poo ("African stone"); choya nak, which is made from roasted sea shells; cumin; costus; and cassie - all to create the skank we like without the animal cruelty (and without the synthetics, for the natural perfumers purists out there).

Happy beaver butt.

In Zoologist's beautiful Beaver edp, one will find a healthy dose of what smells like castoreum. Fear not! No beaver butts were harmed in the making of these perfumes. Zoologist founder Victor Wong challenged perfumer Chris Bartlett (of Pell Wall Perfumes) to create this animalic tribute to Canada's favorite little hard worker without using a single animal product. After all, a tribute is not a suitable tribute if it harms the honoree.

Adorable, isn't he?

There's been a lot of buzz about this scent in Perfume-o-Sphere, but not a ton of reviews. Is that because we're all fifth graders and can't hear the word "beaver" without turning stupid? I literally saw someone post, "I won't try it because of the name." Oh grow up. You're missing out.

Beaver opens with a breath of the lightest citrus, a simple-sweet linden swirl, and the feeling of an expanse of beautiful clean air. And as my skin always brings the heavier notes forward early, yes, I get the castoreum already.

As the perfume progresses - and this is an edp that wears strong, 6-8 hours at least - the musky leather scent builds a bit, always trailing the most beautiful light musky floral notes...

There's a whisper of vanilla and smoke that adds to the feint of leather in the heart of the scent. Not enough to take us into handbag territory, but enough to keep us from tripping into a pile of steaming skank. Hours later, the scent fades gently into softer progressions of musks over woods.

I find the perfume fairly linear in concept with enough subtle nuanced lifts tossed in here and there to keep it from being boring.  As a lover of skank, I'd call this one "skank lite", and recommend it to anyone who enjoys leather scents and may be interested in branching out into more animalic scents.

*Note: as with all musk-based scents a warning must be made. Since musk scent molecules are perceived differently by each nose, what I find not-too-skanky may smell like a barnyard to you, and what you think smells like a skunk may smell as clean as soap to me.  

Beaver is like a remade classic scent. A modern vintage. It has the lovely, earthy skank of an older perfume (that castoreum is really an accord and not a little dose of the real deal?!), with a modern and light hand shaping the notes around it.

And can we talk about the packaging and bottle presentation? GoodNESS those are gorgeous.

Once again, the Zoologist Perfumes house gets an A++ and a "must buy" rating from me, and I don't "do" ratings...

 Beaver edp by Zoologist Perfumes $125 
Top Notes: linden-blossom, Fresh Air, Musk, Light-citrus 
Heart Notes: Castoreum*, Iris, Vanilla, Smoke, Undergrowth 
Base Notes: Animal Musks*, Ash, Cedar, Amber
                             *Synthetic notes. Beaver Eau de Parfum does not use animal products.

 Disclosure: samples are my own

Image Credits: happy as shit beaver, pinterest.com (edited); beaver dam, theamericaninparis; swimming beaver, ign.com; cute begging beaver, docakilah.wordpress.com; all others either zoologist.com or my own


  1. Many thanks for this great fun and thoughtful review. I’m very pleased you had some fun with Beaver :-)

  2. And you chose the cutest beaver images too!

  3. Oooh! Once I'm over my no-more-new-samples-until-I-sample-all-the-ones-I-already-have jaunt, I'm definitely going to try this one and this line!


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